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Imitative Types

Architecture - Campgate

Trier-Campgate.jpg (28468 bytes)

A city gate, still standing in the city of Trier, Germany.  In ancient times, this city was known as Treveri.  The local name is Porta Nigra.

This collection celebrates the ancient coins which depict various pieces of architecture. Much of the influence for this collection comes from conversations with artist and former architect, Marvin Tameanko.

A note about "turrets": there is a popular theory that the top of the campgate pieces are to represent signal beacons, rather than turrets, as they are commonly called. I will keep expanding this collection over time to try to display as many different campgates as I can find so a thorough study can be done. Also, comparing the campgates from early Imperial issues, such as Constantine I, to those of the later Empire, such as Magnus Maximus shows they are quite different in style.  Did the construction of the campgate change as time went on?  Notes on my theories or research on these pieces will be at the end of this page.

Some notes about deciphering the exergue and field marks on ancient coins.  The exergue is the bottom of the reverse side of the coin.  Field marks are everywhere else.  The exergue usually begins with SM, M or P.  SM stands for Sacra Moneta (the sacred money), M simply means Moneta and P stands for Pecunia, which is another word for money.  The officina is also listed and is constructed as follows: Roman Marks = P (Prima or 1), S (Secunda or 2), T (Tertia or 3) and Q (Quarta or 4)

Greek Marks = A, B,
G, D, E, S, Z, H, Q, I, IA, IB, IG, ID, IE

Sometimes the Roman numerals I, II, III, IIII and V are used. Also, sometimes the Greek marks will have the "tens" designation last, ie SMANDI where SM is Sacra Moneta, AN is Antioch and DI is the 14th Officina. MNA would be (M)oneta (N)icomedia, Officina 1 (A). PTRE would be Officina 1 (P) of TREveri. Field marks take on all sorts of letters, shapes and meanings.  Some of whose purpose are still unknown today.   Some field marks represent a series, sometimes the officina.  These are usually on the reverse side and sometimes series marks are also found in the exergue with the mint and officina.  Some example of series marks include a pellet, which is just a dot, a wreath, a palm branch and a leaf.  The "campgate" reverse type is first found in RIC VI, so that is where I will begin tracking references to it.  It continued through Valentinian III in RIC X.  For the later issues, according to Late Roman Bronze Coinage by Carson, Hill and Kent, the operating mints and possible officinae for campgate types were:

Alexandria = 2 Officinae
Antioch = 10 Officinae
Aquileia = 3 Officinae starting in 334
Arelatum/Constantina =4 Officinae
Constantinople = 2 Officinae from 326-327, 7 Officinae in late 327
Cyzicus = 6 Officinae
Heraclea = 5 Officinae
Londonium = 1 Officina
Lugdunum = 1 Officina
Nicomedia = 6 Officinae
Rome = 7 Officinae
Serdica = 0 Officinae
Sirmium = 2 Officinae
Siscia =5 Officinae
Thessalonica = 5 Officinae
Ticinum = 4 Officinae
Treveri = 2 Officinae

The following is a guide to help determine the origin of exergues found on campgates, as observed from the pieces in our collection or I could find in reference books.  Also, the references are listed at a high level, with the details for each entry on the individual city pages (I still need to add the specifics to each page, which will take a long time, along with looking up the RIC numbers in VIII-X yet (09/13/03)).

(AV = gold, AR = silver, AE = bronze)

Alexandria (Egypt): SMAL

    RIC VI - 7-13 (AR)
    RIC VII - 34-37 (AE); 41-43 (AE); 45-47 (AE); 49-52 (AE); 54-56 (AE)

Antioch (Antakiyah, Syria): ANT, SMAN, SMANT

    RIC VI - 31-43 (AR)
    RIC VII - 63-66 (AE); 71-74 (AE); 78-79 (AE); 81 (AE); 84 (AE)

Aquileia (Italy): AQ, SMAQ

    RIC VI - 75 (AR)
    RIC VII - None

Arelatum/Constantina (Arles, France): A, AR, ARL, CON, CONST

    RIC VI - Mint not in operation (moved from Ostia)
    RIC VII - 264-276 (AE); 280-284 (AE); 286-297 (AE); 302-306 (AE); 309-316 (AE); 318-323 (AE); 325-339 (AE)

Constantinopolis (Istanbul, Turkey): CONS

    RIC VI - Mint not in operation
    RIC VII - 7-10 (AE); 20-21 (AE); 27-28 (AE); 39-40 (AE)

Cyzicus (Kapu Dagh, Turkey): MK, SMK

    RIC VI - 4-6 (AR); 39-40 (AE)
    RIC VII - 24-27 (AE); 34-38 (AE); 44-48 (AE); 51-53 (AE); 55-64 (AE)

Heraclea (Eregli, Turkey): HT, MHT, SMH

    RIC VI - 1-11 (AR)
    RIC VII - 14-49 (AE); 65 (AE); 67-68 (AE); 74-78 (AE); 83-84 (AE); 88 (AE); 96-98 (AE); 107-108 (AE)

Londonium (England): LON

    RIC VI - None
    RIC VII - 293-298 (AE)

Lugdunum (Lyons, France): LG, LVG

    RIC VI - None
    RIC VII - 225-233 (AE)

Nicomedia (Izmet, Turkey): MN, N, SMN

    RIC VI - 18-26 (AR)
    RIC VII - 90-94 (AE); 121-128 (AE); 144-147 (AE); 153-158 (AE)

Rome (Italy): R, RB, RF

    RIC VI - 5-8 (AV); 10-44 (AR); 153-157 (AR); 192-193 (AR)
    RIC VII - 165-193 (AE); 264-269 (AE); 287-290 (AE); 323-326 (AE)


    RIC VI - 1-2 (AR); 11 (AR); 21-22 (AR)
    RIC VII - None

Sirmium (Near Mitrovica, Yugoslavia): SIRM

    RIC VI - Mint not in operation
    RIC VII - 53 (AE)

Siscia (Sisak, Croatia): SIS

    RIC VI - 32-73 (AR)
    RIC VII - 183-186 (AE); 193-195 (AE); 200-203 (AE); 214-217 (AE); Failmezger - 274CI, Plate 16 (AE)

Thessalonica (Salonika, Greece): SMTS, TES

    RIC VI - 6-18 (AR)
    RIC VII - 153-158 (AE); 169-172 (AE)

Ticinum (Pavia, Italy): T

    RIC VI - 8-10 (AV); 12-19 (AR)
    RIC VII - 189 (AE); 198-201 (AE); 205-208 (AE)

Treveri (Trier, Germany): TR, TRE

    RIC VI - 100-133 (AR); 635-638 (AR); 757-765 (AR); 827-828 (AR)
    RIC VII - 449-457 (AE); 461-464 (AE); 475-480 (AE); 504-507 (AE); 509-514 (AE)

City gates vs. campgates.....

Macrinus, AE26, 217-218, Moesia Inferior-Nicopolis ad Istrum, Claudius Agrippa as Magistrate
Laureate head right
City gate with three crenelated towers, closed paneled doors
ICTRO in exergue
26mm, 11.62g
Varbanov 3345; Moushmov 1234
Ex Malter Galleries, eBay, 2001

After thinking about the city gates, shown on Roman Provincial coins from as early as when the empire began, I imagine how the people of ancient times would react to the massive and fortified structured depicted on the reverses of coins.  Ray Wilk has a fantastic collection of city gates, some depicting an entire fortified city.

The structures on the Roman Provincials are referred to as city gates, which, as far as I know, all numismatists are in agreement.  The last Roman Provincials produced were under Diocletian, and thus, the end of the city gate issues.

Along with Diocletian's reign came a major monetary reform and the introduction of the three-dimensional perspective campgate, which looks suspiciously like the four rulers sacrificing in front of a city with traditional turrets and perhaps was the transition from city gate to campgate to get the observer to mentally link the strength of a campgate to a city? Or, is this just an "enclosure with eight turrets"?.....

Diocletian, AR Argenteus, 294, Siscia
Laureate head right
Diocletian, Maximianus, Galerius and Constantius I sacrificing over an altar in front of a campgate with eight turrets
18mm x 19mm, 3.45g
RIC VI, 32a
Ex Twelve Caesars, Ex Sisak Hoard

and the more commonly seen, usually 2-d perspective campgate, minted through the reign of Valentinian III.  The great debate rages on with respect to the objects on the top of the gate being signal beacons or braziers vs. watchtowers (updated notes on March 16, 2006 at the bottom of this page).

Diocletian, AR Argenteus, 298, Antioch, Officina 8
Laureate head right
Campgate with seven rows, three turrets, no doors, no star above, top and bottom rows empty blocks
*ANTH* in exergue
19mm x 20mm, 3.01g
RIC VI, 42a (R4)
Ex Gorny & Mosch, Auction 115, Lot 1794, March 2002, Attributed in the auction as RIC VI, 41a

Pre-Constantinian Reform - "brazier-like" turrets

Constantine I, AR Half Siliqua (?), 309-c.313, Group IV, Class II, Treveri, Officina 1
Laureate, cuirassed bust right
Campgate with five rows on left side, six on right, four turrets, no doors, no star above, top and bottom rows empty blocks
PTR in exergue
16mm, 1.24g
RIC VI, 828 (R3)
Ex Triton IX, Lot 1592, January 2006; Ex Freeman & Sear Auction 9, Lot 679, July 2003; Ex Triton V, Lot 2166, January 2002

Pre-Constantinian Reform - turrets similar to the early pieces issued just after the eagles left 

Constantine I, AE3, 318-319, Rome, Officina 3
Laureate, helmeted, cuirassed bust right
Campgate with six rows, three turrets, closed six-paneled doors with pellets, no star above, top and bottom rows empty blocks
P | R in fields
RT in exergue
RIC VII, 176 (R5)

Constantinian Era - tall, brazier-like turrets

Constantine I, AE3, 318-319, Rome, Officina 3
Laureate, helmeted, cuirassed bust right
Campgate with six rows, three turrets, closed six-paneled doors with pellets inside larger archway, no star above, top and bottom rows empty blocks
P | R in fields
RT in exergue
RIC VII, 176 (R5)

Constantinian Era - another example from the same series as the last coin, but with parapet-type turrets

Constantine I, AE3, 325-326, Arelatum, Officina 2
Laureate head right
Campgate with five rows, four turrets, open doors with three empty panels, star above, top and bottom rows empty blocks
SA crescent RL in exergue
19mm x 20mm, 2.90g
RIC VII, 291 (S)

Constantinian Era - tripod-like objects, resembling nothing like turrets, which is one of the reasons more research still needs to be done

After the Constantinian Era, the campgate type regains the more traditional turrets in favor of the brazier type depiction.

Magnus Maximus, AE4, 383-388, Lugdunum, Officina 1
Pearl-diademed, cuirassed, draped bust right
Campgate with five rows, two turrets, no doors, star above, top and bottom rows empty blocks
LVGP in exergue
14mm x 15mm, 1.35g
RIC IX, 36v

Note: Obverse legend misspelled - Maxinvs instead of the correct Maximvs

Empire in decline - more traditional looking turrets and the whole reverse very much harkens back to those of the Roman Provincials

Flavius Victor, AE4, 387-388, Constantina, Officina 1
Pearl-diademed, draped, cuirassed bust right
Campgate with four rows, two turrets, no doors, star above, top and bottom rows empty blocks
PCON in exergue
13mm x 14mm, 1.10g
RIC IX, 29(b)1 (S)
Ex Hildebrand-Amalric Coins, eBay, 2003

Empire in decline - turrets with conical roofs

Valentinian III, AE3, 425-c.435, First Period, Second Group, Rome, Officina 1
Pearl-diademed, draped, cuirassed bust right
Campgate with three rows, two turrets, no doors, no star above, top and bottom rows empty blocks
P between turrets
RM in exergue
10mm x 12mm, 1.04g
RIC X, 2124 (R)

Note: RIC lists this series as an AE3 module, so this is struck on a very undersized flan.

Very late in the Roman Empire - parapet type turrets

Valentinian III, AE4, 425-c.435, First Period, Second Group, Variety B, Rome, Officina 2
Pearl-diademed, draped, cuirassed bust right
Campgate with seven rows, surmounted by pellets, no doors, no star above, top and bottom rows empty blocks
S between turrets
RM in exergue
12mm, 1.48g
RIC X, 2126 (R)
Ex CNG Electronic Auction 120, Lot 312, August 2005; Ex Tony Hardy Collection

Note: RIC lists this series as an AE3 module.

Very late in the Roman Empire - turrets now replaced by pellets

Autonomous Issue of Antioch Cusaders, AE Fractional Denier, 1120-1140
AN / TIOC / HIA in three lines
Three annulets above and below
(No legend)
Castle with three towers, the front with four rows and three turrets, the rear (center) with three rows and three turrets, two archways, three bushes below
16mm, 1.04g
Malloy Crusader 13b variant (?); Metcalf Crusades 463

Notes from Steve Ford: This coin is a very rare anonymous AE fractional denier of Antioch. It is listed on page 202 as number 13b in the 1994 edition of Alex Malloy's Coins of the Crusader States. The approximate date of issue is cited as 1120-1140 A.D. The weight of the coin should be in the range of 0.60 to 0.80g.

This variety appears to be missing from the collection at the Ashmolean Museum as it is not illustrated in D.M. Metcalf's Coinage of the Latin East. The museum does, however, have a similar anonymous fractional denier that is plated as number 463, weighing 0.57g.

CNG sold an example of a lighter variety of this piece in their VCoins store described as nVF in December 2006 for $295.

700 years later and the design is adapted for use by the Antioch Crusaders and looks like the Roman Provincial city gates.

Campgate Theory Discussion - Victor Failmezger, 07/30/2003

Author of "Roman Bronze Coins", Ross & Perry Inc., 2002

"As you know, I believe that they are signal/watchtowers.  We need to break off the obvious city gates (four Emperors sacrificing and those earlier ones) from these common Constantinian (Licinian) bronze coins and review what we have left.

Remember that, during this time, there was a complete reorganization of the army and the idea was that the standing army would be a mobile force, with auxiliary troops, stationed on the frontiers (Limes).  The only thing that would make this work would be the ability to rapidly communicate threats across the empire to send in the mobile troops, hence the need for rapid and quick communications.  The most common legend, foresight of the augustus (caesar) is a nice bit of propaganda to say that these signal towers allow the Emperor to respond to these attacks.

As you might have guessed, in more than 16 years of living in Europe, I have visited many of the remains of forts, limes and roman watchtowers and am impressed how, in some locations, almost every hill has the remains of these towers.  So, for me there is no question that they are signal towers.  Don't forget the literary evidence I cited in my book on the ability of the Romans to send signals and the drawing I did for the Celator article from Trajan's Column showing the burning signal torch."

NOTE:  When available, I will post the aforementioned evidence from Tory's book, along with the drawing of the burning signal torch.

Images sent to me, or reused with permission, of some unusual campgates

Licinius II, AE3, Rome.  LICINIVS IVN NOB C  Laureate, cuirassed bust right.  VIRTV_S CAESS  Campgate with six rows, doors closed, seen in 3-d perspective, P | R across fields, RP in exergue.  Photo courtesy of Keith Metzer.

Note:  This piece definitively shows the campgate series really did represent an enclosed area, but the debate still stands with respect to braziers or turrets.  Unfortunately, I have no idea who owns this incredible coin, so no further details are available.

Arcadius, AE4, Fifth Period (August 25, 383-August 28-388), Group II, Thessalonica, Officina 3
Pearl-diademed, draped, cuirassed bust right
Campgate with six rows, two turrets, no doors, no star above, top and bottom rows empty blocks, two arches within rows four and five
G in left field
TES in exergue
12mm, 0.94g
RIC IX, 62c3v (S for type)

Note:  A very interesting piece showing either a multi-level gate, or perhaps a facing 3-d perspective with the back wall of the gate with two openings.

VALENS. 364-378 AD. 22mm (4.27 gm). Uncertain mint. Struck 368 AD. Pearl-diademed, draped, and cuirassed bust left / Two-towered camp gate, S above; COMTM. For type: cf. RIC IX 40 (Constantinople); LRBC 2089; for mintmark: cf. RIC IX 26b (Constantinople); cf. Depeyrot 25/1 (Constantinople). VF, dark brown patina. Unpublished and possibly unique. (Estimate - $500, Sold for $1,200 and unfortunately I was the underbidder.)

Sale: CNG 63, Lot: 1550. Closing Date: May 21, 2003. VALENS. 364-378 AD. 22mm (4.27 gm). Uncertain mint. Struck 368 AD.

This issue of Valens possesses some unique features. The reverse legend and type is known on an extremely rare bronze issue at Constantinople (RIC IX 40), but its mintmark is an unremarkable CONSA, unlike the unusual COMTM of the present specimen. A similar mintmark is known on a gold issue at Constantinople (Depeyrot 25/1), but with the MT ligate. While it is possible for this coin to be a bronze companion to this gold issue (the other bronze issue is chronologically grouped with it) it is also possible, based on style, that this is a bronze issue of a western mint, where mintmarks with COM are the norm. Moreover, the die cutter has transposed the legend to read GLORI-A MORA-NORVM, and such errors are more prevalent in western issues.


Update - March 18, 2006: I have finally acquired an example of one of the earliest issues to use the "campgate" design, minted in 295 (click on the photo for the larger image):

Constantius I, AR Argenteus, 295, Group I, Class II, Nicomedia, Officina 3
Laureate head right
Campgate with fifteen rows on left side, nineteen rows on right side, open doors each with four empty panels, four turrets surmounted by facing eagles, no star, top and bottom rows empty blocks
SMNG in exergue
18mm, 3.33g
RIC VI, 21 (R4)
Ex Numismatik Lanz Munchen, Auction 125, Lot 1057, November 2005

The reason I wanted to add this particular example to my collection is because it is in basically as-struck condition, with the facing eagles on each of the turrets. Note how the very next issue, from the same mint and officina, no longer has the eagles on the turrets:

Diocletian, AR Argenteus, 295-296, Group I, Class III, Nicomedia, Officina 3
Laureate head right
Campgate with six rows, open doors each with five empty panels, star above doorway, four turrets without eagles, no star, top and bottom rows empty blocks
SMNG in exergue
20mm x 21mm, 3.15g
RIC VI, 25a (R3)
Ex Freeman and Sear, July 2003

The differences are specifically noted in the descriptions and plates in RIC. Personally, I find the facing eagles to be very compelling evidence the objects surmounting the campgate are indeed turrets and not signal beacons.